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Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, one of the most incredible castles of France

There are a mind-boggling 40,000 castles in France. Visit one a day and it could take you a staggering 110 years to see all of them. Here we have a look at probably the most unbelievable castles of France – the oldest, the most important, probably the most haunted and different chateaux in France which have wonderful tales to inform. As effectively as castles that make you cease in your tracks with their dazzling magnificence.

Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte castle

The Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte is in Ile de France, about 55km from the centre of Paris. It is the most important personal residence in France, owned by the de Vogüé household. Not solely is it exquisitely stunning however it has probably the most wonderful story of ardour, betrayal, corruption, and tragedy. It’s a narrative which formed the historical past of France. You really feel it within the kitchens with their gleaming copper pans, within the fantastically furnished rooms with their work and tapestries and gilded this and that, within the gardens which look as they’d when Le Notre, later Louis XIV’s favorite gardener designed them. There is an echo of the previous right here and you’ll’t keep away from it.

Enter these grand gates and climb the steps in entrance of the massive courtyard, and there 352 years in the past stood the proud creator of the fort, a person referred to as Nicolas Fouquet, ready to welcome his King on a go to. It was 17 August 1661, a sweltering sizzling day. Fouquet had served Louis XIV effectively and loyally as Minister of Finances, and that night time he hoped to wow his King by entertaining him in nice fashion.

Fouquet had introduced collectively three greats from French historical past, Le Vau – the architect, le Brun – the painter, and le Notre the gardener. For the primary time, a property was constructed when each the look of the house and the backyard had been thought-about as an entire bundle. It wasn’t simply fabulous, it was dazzling.

The chateau that made a king jealous

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte

The chateau took 20 years to create. And we now comprehend it just about bankrupted Fouquet, however he was a person obsessed, the whole lot needed to be proper. The night time the King got here, it wasn’t fairly completed. Painters of ceilings and partitions downed instruments, masons carving statues swept up and made the whole lot look nearly as good because it might and received out of the way in which earlier than the king arrived. Even unfinished, the outcome was stupendous.

The King’s carriage swept into the courtyard, he alighted and stood on the backside of the steps wanting up at Fouquet above him on the steps beaming, pleased with his achievement, fairly presumably probably the most stunning fort in all of France. The destiny of the minister and the chateau was sealed in that second. Never once more would anybody stand increased than Louis XIV or have a chateau extra stunning than his.

Instead of staying the night time within the suite of rooms designed particularly for him, with a view of a large crown in a lake, which he was presupposed to see upon waking subsequent morning, the king minimize quick his go to. Though he loved dinner cooked by the nice French prepare dinner Vatel, he then travelled to his personal chateau of Fontainebleau, a journey of three hours by horse and carriage.

Resentful of Fouquet’s opulent show of wealth, incensed at being left on the backside of the steps, listening to the whispers of those that sought to take away Fouquet from his place of trusted advisor, the 21-year-old king had his minister arrested simply two weeks later, 5 September 1661.

Louis took the whole lot within the Chateau. The furnishings, work, tapestries, ornaments, beds and even the orange timber of their pots within the backyard. He additionally took Le Vau, Le Brun and Le Notre and commanded them to assist him flip Versailles, then a glorified searching lodge, into one thing much more opulent than Vaux-le-Vicomte.

Meanwhile poor Fouquet went by a present trial, accused of swindling his royal grasp. Crooked witnesses and pretend paperwork fuelled by jealous ministers who needed the King’s allegiance for themselves meant Fouquet spent the remainder of his life in Prison, dying 19 years later. From that day no king ever slept at Vaux-le-Vicomte. It took Mrs Fouquet 10 years to get the fort again and he or she lived there till 1705. After that it was bought and resold a number of occasions then left deserted and in ruins till a sugar baron, Alfred Sommier purchased it. He and his descendants the Vogüé household have spent the final 140 years restoring and preserving this magnificent fort.

Fontainebleau – one of the crucial unbelievable castles of France

Chateau de Fontainebleau

The Chateau de Fontainebleau that Louis XIV went to from Vaux-le-Vicomte shouldn’t be distant. And it too has an astounding historical past. 500 years older than Versailles. The unique chapel was consecrated by Thomas Becket, AKA Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Thomas à Becket. This unbelievable place has greater than 1500 rooms and is the one royal and imperial chateau in France that has been repeatedly inhabited for eight centuries. From the 12th Century, when it was a royal searching lodge in an unlimited forest, the constructing was renovated, prolonged, and embellished by numerous Kings, Queens Emperors, and Empresses till it grew to become the extraordinary, monumental fort you possibly can go to and ogle at in the present day.

The fort was a favorite of the royals together with Francois 1er, the Renaissance King, Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette. In one of many rooms is a mattress commissioned by her, however she by no means received to sleep on it, she misplaced her head earlier than she had the possibility. It was additionally a favorite of Napoleon Bonaparte and there are many reminiscences of the General, his hats, garments and private belongs, his son’s cradle, toys, and books – you get a way of Napoleon the person. Sure, he liked bling and energy and cash, however he liked his son, he was a doting dad. And it’s right here that Napoleon stated au revoir to his private guard when he was exiled from France. It’s an impressive fort stuffed with really beautiful artwork, carpets, furnishings, work, tapestries, beautiful gardens.

Chateau de Guédelon, Burgundy

You could know this fort from a UK TV sequence which adopted its creation and progress. The Chateau de Guédelon shouldn’t be your common French chateau. A crew of about 50 builders, making a medieval fort from scratch, in a center of a forest, with the methodology and the instruments used within the thirteenth century. Every craft wanted to construct a medieval fort is there: stonemasons, carpenters, blacksmiths, tilers, weavers, dyers, rope-makers, and plenty of extra, all working to revive the 800-year-old crafts and expertise required to construct such a fort.

It even has a flour mill that has additionally been constructed from scratch, with the intention of manufacturing the identical kind of flour as within the Middle Ages. And that bit relies on the stays of a twelfth century water mill discovered within the Jura area not very distant. They bake bread created from the Guédelon-ground flour and baked within the fort’s oven!

It’s a folie, a loopy however incredible mission. It began in 1997, the thought of native French chateau restorer and proprietor Michel Guyot. He and his brother Jacques have a ardour for historic buildings and for restoring them. The work impressed in them a ardour to study extra about constructing a fort. It must be completed in 2025. You can go to it after all and you may as well “apporter votre pierre à l’édifice” which accurately interprets to “bring your own stone to the building” which suggests play your half, do your bit to assist.

Fun reality: Some of the methods which have been rediscovered listed below are getting used within the reconstruction of Notre dame in Paris.

Tallest Castle in France

Chateau de Brissac, Loire Valley

The Chateau de Brissac within the Loire, is a whopping seven-storeys excessive! It’s 48 metres, 157 ft excessive and is called the “giant of the Loire Valley.” It was first constructed within the 11th century and up to date and prolonged through the years. Records present the household of the Dukes of Brissac moved in on May 26 . Their descendants nonetheless dwell on this 200-roomed dwelling to this present day. They hire out a few unbelievable rooms with 4 poster beds, tapestries, and antiques galore. The Duke instructed me that he nips into the close by city to select up your croissants for breakfast! It’s additionally stated that Brissac is haunted! A grotesque double homicide happened right here within the 15th century. The proprietor at the moment, one Jacques de Brézé caught his spouse along with her lover. He ran them each by together with his sword, pinning their souls endlessly between the fort partitions, it’s stated you possibly can hear their sighs on a darkish night time…

Most haunted fort in France

But Brissac shouldn’t be probably the most haunted fort. That accolade goes to the fairy story fairly Chateau de Puymartin, between the beautiful medieval cities of Sarlat and Les Eyzies in Dordogne is claimed to be France’s most haunted chateau. People typically declare to see “La Dame Blanche” (“The White Lady”) working in the direction of the chateau’s North Tower, the spirit of the proprietor’s spouse Thérèse de Saint-Clar, who died after 15 years of being locked in a tiny room within the chateau’s tower within the Sixteenth-century. The story goes that her husband locked her up after he discovered she had a lover. She paces the tower at night time…

The Oldest fort in France

The oldest fort in France is the Château de Thil in Burgundy. Building was began within the 12 months 850, nearly 1300 years in the past! It’s really a little bit of a spoil, however you possibly can nonetheless see its stunning form, an impressive spoil. You can go to totally free – it’s within the city of Vic-Sous-Thil, not removed from Beaune, Dijon or Vezelay. France is filled with historic castles, like Montbazon, within the Loire Valley. It was constructed between 991 and 996 A. D., and its hold, a fortified tower is 92 ft excessive. It was commissioned by Foulque Nerra, Count of Anjou, a area within the Loire Valley. He was well-known for his many castles and his unhealthy mood. He was a part of the household line of the English home of Windsor in addition to the French monarchs.

And one other previous fort, not too distant within the Loire Valley is Le Chateau d’Angers within the city of the identical identify. Its outer partitions are 10 ft thick, and it was thought-about impregnable in its day. It has uncommon “stripes” of limestone and a darker stone referred to as schist, and 17 towers. Inside, you possibly can see the oldest medieval tapestry on this planet, La Tenture de l’Apocalypse, from the 14th century, depicting the Biblical e-book of Revelation.

There are additionally some fabulous tapestries on the close by Hôpital Saint-Jean, itself a masterpiece of Plantagenet Gothic structure. These tapestries are extra trendy, by an artist referred to as Jean artist Jean Lurçat (born 1892) referred to as Le Chant du Monde – a poetic and symbolic imaginative and prescient of the world during which the artist defines Man’s place inside the universe. They are extraordinary.

The largest fort in France

Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley

 One of the most important chateaux in France is Chambord within the Loire Valley. Teeming with turrets and towers, gleaming white stone contrasts with its pointy black slate roof, it’s a magnificent show of energy and good style. Built by Francois 1er, referred to as the Renaissance King, as he constructed castles within the French Renaissance fashion and invited Leonardo da Vinci to return and keep in his fort Clos Luce within the Loire. Leonardo stated sure, left Italy on a donkey carrying his belongings together with the Mona Lisa portray which Francois put in his lavatory, and lived the remainder of his life in France.

Francois constructed Chambord as an emblem of his energy, 426 rooms, 282 fireplaces and 83 staircases together with a double helix spiral staircase stated to be designed by Leonardo. It is so huge, and it was so costly to construct with its ornate ceilings and partitions that it was by no means completed in Francois lifetime however it’s completely wonderful – simply as he meant.

Perched castles in France

Beynac, Dordogne

We’re staying in Dordogne for one of many highest castles in France – the beautiful chateau de Beynac. Not fairly nosebleed excessive, however in case you don’t like heights, don’t hang around over the ramparts at this one! The fort rises tons of of ft above the Dordogne River. It’s inside eyesight of its adversary, Castelnaud which is even increased up and simply minutes up the river. Both fortresses had been focal factors of the Hundred Years War. You’ll see indicators to succeed in the fort by climbing a twisting, cobblestone path flanked by dreamy stone cottages. What they don’t let you know is that you simply don’t must stroll up the steep path. There’s a street going as much as a car parking zone close to the fort entrance!

A papal palace in France

Palace of the Popes, Avignon

There is one palace in France that’s not just like the others – it’s the Palais des Papes, the Popes Palace in Avignon. There was a time within the early 1300’s when the seat of the Catholic Church was in Provence, not Rome. And the Popes constructed themselves a palace – In reality it’s the largest Gothic Palace on earth, breathtakingly stunning with ceremonial halls, chapels, papal flats, and a kitchen so huge you could possibly roast as much as 50 oxen without delay in there!

You can hearken to this submit by podcast: Amazing castles of France

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Janine Marsh is the writer of  a number of internationally best-selling books about France. Her newest e-book How to be French – a celebration of the French life-style and artwork de vivre, is out now – a have a look at the French lifestyle. Find all books on her web site janinemarsh.com

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The most incredible castles of France